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Negotiating Custom: A History of the Galle Landraad (1740-96)

Nadeera Seneviratne defended her thesis on 21 January 2016.

N.T. Seneviratne
21 January 2016
Leiden University Repository

The VOC left hundreds of volumes of legal records that now lie at the Sri Lanka National Archives. These sources provide an insight into colonial law, an area of legal history that has developed rapidly over the last fifteen years or so. Sri Lanka, which has the characteristics of a pluralistic legal structure, is one of the few countries in the world where Roman-Dutch law exists in some form to this date. Questions on the imposition of a foreign law and the degree to which indigenous customs were accommodated will be central to my research. Whether colonial law was a site of domination or resistance used by the locals have been two directions that have been considered; that it was more likely to have been a site of negotiation has been a more recent understanding. With such issues in mind, I hope to add a Sri Lankan case study to the existing research on colonial law, by focusing on the records of the Galle Landraad or district court in the eighteenth century.

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